“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw
In today’s buyer-controlled world, the most compelling, engaging, insight-driven content doesn’t deliver value unless it is actually seen, heard, felt or acted upon by the intended audiences.
And therein lies the illusion Shaw references. As communicators, we cannot afford to have our efforts be the proverbial tree falling in the woods.
The ability to connect and inspire target audiences with the right content offers a major opportunity for the PR industry to differentiate itself from traditional advertising, digital and marketing agencies.
Perhaps you have experienced these:
- The killer mobile app that nobody downloads because they’ve never heard about it
- The educational white papers posted on your client’s website with few page views
- The highly creative and compelling ads placed in the wrong outlets
- The important company news delivered via a press conference when it should have come through deskside interviews with influential bloggers
- The game-changing corporate initiative communicated via employee newsletter when it should have come through small-group manager meetings
All of these and more are the result of a faulty connection strategy – the inability to connect the audience with the content – and drive behavior change.
PR agencies are not starting from scratch – connection strategy has always been part of our work for clients. It’s just that our connection strategy tends to be focused on an earned, and arguably shared, media world where most of the recommended strategies and tactics are related to the best media outlets and social channels to place a story or post a piece of content.
The most effective connection strategies should be delivered through the PESO Model. The challenge is to define what this model looks like for each individual client and program – because every client’s PESO model is going to be different.
Moreover, every aspect of PESO is changing, and the lines between paid, owned, shared and earned media are converging. Just a few examples:
- From a PAID standpoint, it’s less about buying space and more about buying partnerships that connect the brand with the media outlet’s greatest asset – its viewers/readers/subscribers. This need is creating vertical social platforms in both the B2C (e.g. Vice’s Broadly) and B2B social professional networks, that not only provide existing community building and social media opportunities but also targeted sponsorship and advertising opportunities.
- From an EARNED standpoint, traditional media outlets such as Forbes.com now have fewer paid reporters supplemented with hundreds of “contributors” – independent writers who may or may not be traditional journalists. They may write for several outlets – and have a cadre of Twitter followers – most of who live outside of these outlets’ subscriber base.
- From an OWNED standpoint, technology allows us to more closely target and serve up customized content to each individual buyer based on where they are in the purchasing decision cycle – from awareness to information to evaluation to trial to reinforcement.
- And we all know what’s happening in the SHARED world, with its constantly shifting array of social channels and means of engagement. Digital, social and mobile platforms are creating new ways to interact directly with consumers in real time, in addition to – or bypassing – traditional and earned media.
Moving our industry forward will require us to strike the right balance between being adventurous and foolhardy. Chasing every single new innovation will cause us to waste time, energy and money. Doing nothing means the world will quickly pass us by. Successful communicators will take the time to study and understand every quadrant of the PESO model. They will build the expertise and capabilities in- house or partner with those that can extend their clients’ content with the reach and frequency that makes an impact.